Harry Seisho Nakasone

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  • Born: 1912
  • Died: 2011
  • Japanese: 仲宗根 盛松 (Nakasone Seishou)

Harry Seishô Nakasone was the long-time head of the Hawaiʻi branch of the Nomura-ryû school (style) of classical Okinawan uta-sanshin music.

Nakasone was the son of an Okinawan immigrant mother who taught kutu (koto) lessons on the island. Like many young Okinawans in Hawaiʻi in his generation, he became a kibei (lit. "returning to America"): his parents sent him to Okinawa for much of his schooling as a child, during which time he stayed with and was raised by an uncle in Goeku (today part of Okinawa City). At the end of this period, as he prepared to return to Hawaiʻi, Nakasone was gifted a sanshin by his uncle which he continued to prize as his favorite for decades.

In 1963, he became the first person from Hawaiʻi to be awarded the highest certification in Okinawan music, the Ryûgaku saikô shô (lit. "Ryukyu music highest award").

In 1991, Nakasone became the first Asian-American to be granted a National Endowments for the Arts Folk Heritage Fellowship, an honor roughly equivalent in the United States to the Japanese distinction of Living National Treasure. The following year, he was named a Living National Treasure of Hawaii, and in 1994 was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Japanese government.[1]

Nakasone died in 2011 and was succeeded as head of the Nomura-ryû Hawai-shibu by his student Norman Kaneshiro.


  • Gail Miyasaki, "Okinawans and Culture in Hawaii," Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii, Honolulu: University of Hawaii at Manoa Ethnic Studies Program (2009), 169.
  1. "Harry Siesho (sic) Nakasone." Honolulu Star-Advertiser Obituaries. 2 April 2011.